Stepping into Electronic Arts' "EA3" event last week, we made a beeline for ... Hasbro Family Game Night, passing up the likes of Dead Space, Mirror's Edge, Mercenaries 2, and Tiger Woods Golf 2009: Busted Knee Edition along the way. We know, we know. But who can resist the lure of Battleship, Connect Four, Yahtzee, Boggle, Sorry and its new sibling Sorry Sliders? (Answer: you maybe; not us.)
There's nothing groundbreaking about Hasbro Family Game Night, EA has just managed to nail fun gameplay, which is mostly a credit to the creators of the original (board!) games. The game designers have kept the transition to video game very simple. Most of the games have "updated" modes, but players can always revert back to the plain vanilla stuff. We played the new Connect Four, which has super-powered checkers that do things like crush your opponent, block a vertical column, and double your score. At first we thought it was sacrilege to tinker with these classic games ... but it works. "Pretty sneaky, sis!"
"Well worth a wrist flick."
It's been years since we've played Sorry or Boggle, but the Wiimote actually made spelling fun again, and knocking our opponents off the Sorry board was well worth a wrist flick. Unfortunately, Battleship was still in the shop, so we didn't get to play it -- even the EA representative wasn't quite sure how it's going to sail. "Right now we have it so the person you're playing against has to turn their head away when it's your turn," so they don't see where your ships are. Not exactly the best gameplay mechanic, but fun for cheaters!
EA has also added a "room" feature to the game, which can be decorated with purchased items (finally, that pink princess canopy bed you've always wanted!) and further customized with options to swap the view "outside" and more. It doesn't add much to the overall presentation, but it provides a space to rest your wrist between heated Yahtzee matches. Hasbro Family Game Night is being developed for Wii and PlayStation 2 and will be released this holiday (we're hearing November 2008) -- it'll be value priced at $39.99 for the Wii, and $29.99 for the PS2 edition.
And now, probably the most interesting thing to come out of our time with this game was the following exchange:
Joystiq: "Hasbro owns a lot of board game titles ... don't they own Risk?"
EA: "Yes, they do."
Joystiq: "Well, that seems like a no-brainer for an online game. Why aren't you guys making that?"
EA: "We've been having some very interesting discussions about that title in the office."
We also picked up a copy of the new Risk board game (with new rules and pieces) at Toys R Us over the weekend, and the back of the box is emblazoned with EA's logo, touting the Hasbro relationship synergy. Let's hope this means we'll get an XBLA/PSN Risk sometime soon. In the near future, it means you'll be seeing Monopoly on the Wii, 360, PS3 and PS2, Littlest Pet Shop on the Wii, DS and PC, and NERF "N-Strike" exclusively for the Wii later this year, all as part of EA's partnership with Hasbro. Game on.